Fagerström A, Mölling P, Khan FA, Sundqvist M, Jass J, Söderquist B
PLoS ONE 14 (11) e0224861 [2019-11-07; online 2019-11-07]
Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli have been reported in natural environments, and may be released through wastewater. In this study, the genetic relationship between ESBL-producing E. coli collected from patient urine samples (n = 45, both hospitalized patients and out-patients) and from environmental water (n = 82, from five locations), during the same time period, was investigated. Three independent water samples were collected from the municipal wastewater treatment plant, both incoming water and treated effluent water; the receiving river and lake; and a bird sanctuary near the lake, on two different occasions. The water was filtered and cultured on selective chromID ESBL agar plates in order to detect and isolate ESBL-producing E. coli. Illumina whole genome sequencing was performed on all bacterial isolates (n = 127). Phylogenetic group B2 was more common among the clinical isolates than the environmental isolates (44.4% vs. 17.1%, p < 0.01) due to a significantly higher prevalence of sequence type (ST) 131 (33.3% vs. 13.4%, p < 0.01). ST131 was, however, one of the most prevalent STs among the environmental isolates. There was no significant difference in diversity between the clinical isolates (DI 0.872 (0.790-0.953)) and the environmental isolates (DI 0.947 (0.920-0.969)). The distribution of ESBL genes was similar: blaCTX-M-15 dominated, followed by blaCTX-M-14 and blaCTX-M-27 in both the clinical (60.0%, 8.9%, and 6.7%) and the environmental isolates (62.2%, 12.2%, and 8.5%). Core genome multi-locus sequence typing showed that five environmental isolates, from incoming wastewater, treated wastewater, Svartån river and Hjälmaren lake, were indistinguishable or closely related (≤10 allele differences) to clinical isolates. Isolates of ST131, serotype O25:H4 and fimtype H30, from the environment were as closely related to the clinical isolates as the isolates from different patients were. This study confirms that ESBL-producing E. coli are common in the aquatic environment even in low-endemic regions and suggests that wastewater discharge is an important route for the release of ESBL-producing E. coli into the aquatic environment.